How Childhood Trauma Affects High Achievers: Understanding the Link Part 1
As a therapist, I often work with people who are high achievers and experiencing burnout. Understanding how childhood trauma may impact this group of individuals is essential to healing.
Childhood trauma can refer to any experience in childhood that is distressing, frightening, or overwhelming. Childhood trauma can include:
- Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
- Domestic violence
- The sudden loss of a loved one
For my clients, emotional neglect is the most common form of childhood trauma they experience. Childhood emotional neglect refers to the lack of attention and comfort you experience growing up. Emotional neglect leaves my clients feeling defeated, ashamed, and lonely, no matter how much they achieve.
Not everyone who experiences childhood trauma will develop long-term effects. People respond differently to trauma due to their unique personalities and other protective factors. However, it's crucial to understand that these experiences can negatively impact individuals, mainly if the trauma isn't addressed. Below, I expand on the emotional dysregulation my high-achieving clients feel before they resolve their childhood trauma.
High-Achievers With Unresolved Childhood Trauma Feel More Stress and Anxiety
Due to childhood emotional neglect, my clients often don't know what to do with their feelings. Healthy emotional expression was not part of their childhood. Now, their feelings surprise and overwhelm them. As a means of coping with this emotional dysregulation, they stay busy. Accomplishing tasks and meeting goals helps them avoid emotions and feel a sense of control. However, this sense of power is an illusion. This kind of control isn't due to inner security. Instead, it often leads to more emotional dysregulation, which impacts their ability to cope with stress, care for themselves, and maintain healthy relationships.
High-Achievers With Unresolved Childhood Trauma Feel More Burnout and Depression
There is nothing wrong with wanting to achieve and being successful. However, if people seek achievement to prove their worth, their mental health usually suffers. People who suffer from childhood emotional neglect can internalize the lack of attention from their families as their fault. Now, not only are they achieving to feel a sense of control over their lives, but they are also achieving as a way to compensate for their feelings of inadequacy. This pressure to succeed increases perfectionistic tendencies among my clients. Since they deal with high-stress levels and do not allow themselves to rest, they burn out. While experiencing burnout, they'll likely make mistakes, lack motivation, and procrastinate.
High-Achievers With Unresolved Childhood Trauma Struggle With Self-Compassion
High achievers with unresolved childhood trauma often have a false sense of identity. Growing up, they only received attention and connection from their family through effort and accomplishment. My clients do not have a sense of self-worth outside of the esteem that comes from achieving. Therefore they struggle when burnout occurs, and they are no longer productive. Lack of accomplishment makes my clients feel shame. As a result, they start isolating and feeling depressed.
In conclusion, achievement does not make high achievers feel better. Instead, it becomes a maladaptive way of coping. Therapy can provide practical and effective support. In treatment, high-achievers can recognize their tendency to internalize stress due to childhood trauma. Through therapy, high-achievers can challenge false beliefs and develop a healthy self-concept. As a result, they can reduce the pressure they put on themselves to succeed and develop healthy coping mechanisms to manage feelings.
Begin Therapy in Mahomet, IL
Stop proving your worth through tasks that burn you out. Like Lekko can help equip you with the tools to work through childhood trauma. Together, you can build more self-compassion and receive the support you deserve. Text or call to schedule your therapy appointment today. To start working with a therapist in Illinois just follow these simple steps.
- Take the step by calling or texting 217-402-7817
- Schedule your first appointment at my Illinois-based practice to address overworking
- Start understanding what causes you to overwork
Other Therapy Services I Offer in Illinois
I know that you may experience issues related to more than one mental health concern. This is why I offer several additional services to provide you with guidance and support. Other services include counseling for women and grief and loss counseling. I also offer counseling for people-pleasing and therapy for childhood emotional neglect. Whether you are in Peoria, Springfield, Mahomet, or somewhere in between in Illinois I can help with teletherapy. I look forward to hearing how I can help you.